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Iowa Legislature 2019

A roundup of legislative and Capitol news items of interest for Tuesday, March 12, 2019:

VAMOS A PESCAR: The Iowa Hunter Education Instructors Association was awarded a George H.W. Bush Vamos A Pescar — We are going to fish — Education grant to engage Hispanic families in fishing this summer and fall in the Des Moines metro and other central iowa communities, as well as the Cedar Falls/Waterloo area.

Program partners include Iowa State University Extension and Outreach in Dallas and Black Hawk counties, the Iowa Latino Center, Johnston Parks and Recreation and Des Moines Parks and Recreation along with several local organizations and businesses.

The grant is sponsored by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ Fish Iowa! angler education program and the Recreational Fishing and Boating Foundation’s Vamos A Pescar program.

LET AMERICA VOTE: Iowa Senate Minority Leader Janet Petersen, D-Des Moines, has been added to the Board of Advisers of Let America Vote, a nationwide organization dedicated to ending voter suppression.

Let America Vote helped “pro-democracy” candidates win in Iowa in 2018, Petersen said, she’s looking forward to being a board member “as they expand their work fighting voter suppression across the country for the 2020 election.”

FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION: Female genital mutilation would be a Class D felony under legislation passed unanimously by the Senate.

Iowa is one of 22 states without a law that addresses female genital mutilation, according to the AHA Foundation, which advocates against the practice.

“This practice should be classified as torture, frankly,” said Sen. Jake Chapman, R-Adel.

The bill heads to the House, which has a bill that was identical until the Senate amended Senate File 346.

NO-POACH: Four national fast-food franchisers will cease using “no-poach” agreements in a multistate settlement with a coalition of 14 attorneys general, including Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller.

“No-poach” agreements restrict the right of fast-food workers to move from one franchise to another within the same restaurant chain.

The agreements with Dunkin’, Arby’s, Five Guys and Little Caesars settle an investigation announced by the states in July 2018 over concerns that no-poach agreements hurt low-wage workers by limiting their ability to secure better-paying jobs.

The no-poach provisions are often contained in agreements between corporate headquarters and franchisees and are not disclosed to employees.

DURHAM, STRAWN CONFIRMED: The Senate confirmed four individuals to serve on state boards, including leaders of the lottery and state’s low-income housing department.

Debi Durham was confirmed to lead the Iowa Finance Authority with a vote of 44-5.

Durham also leads the state’s economic development board and the Iowa Finance Authority, which handles programs for low-income housing and experienced upheaval after its former director was fired after multiple allegations of sexual harassment.

Matt Strawn was confirmed to lead the Iowa Lottery, 48-1. Strawn owns a public affairs business and is a past chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa.

The Senate also confirmed, with separate unanimous votes, Stephen Bayens as the state’s public safety commissioner and Frederick Lindenmayer as a member of the Board of Regents, which oversees the state’s three public universities.

CAMPAIGN DAY CARE: A bill to relax a requirement that all gifts and bequests received by the executive branch of state government must be reported to the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board and the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee was approved, 96-0.

However, an amendment that would have allowed campaign funds to be used to pay for dependent care was rejected, 45-50.

Rep. Heather Matson, D-Ankeny, proposed allowing campaign funds to be used for dependent care, such as child care, incurred as a direct result of campaign activity as long as the recipient was not the candidate’s spouse or child.

“Too many good people are left out because they can’t afford to quit their job or cut back on work hours,” she said, adding that child care could cost $10 an hour or thousands of dollars during a campaign.

However, Rep. Andy McKean, R-Anamosa, said Matson, who sits next to him, had not convinced him of her amendment’s merit.

“We all make various kinds of sacrifices to be here,” he said.

The bill would require gifts and bequests with a value of $50 or more be reported.

FRIEND TO COUNTIES: The Iowa State Association of County Supervisors will present its annual Friend of the County Award to Gov. Kim Reynolds for her continued commitment to counties by supporting full funding of the commercial and industrial property tax backfill and mental health and disability services.

Dawn Smith, the association’s president and Cedar County supervisor, will present the award at 9:30 a.m. today in the Capitol Rotunda.

The award presentation will take place in conjunction with the 11th annual Iowa State Association of Counties County Day at the Capitol, when members will advocate for their priorities with a special focus on mental health.

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